Community Cord Blood Banking saves life of child with aplastic anaemia

Country’s first dual cord blood transplant through unrelated donor

November 19, 2020 10:48 pm | Updated November 20, 2020 04:05 am IST - Mumbai

Success story: The seven-year-old girl from Nashik with her parents.

Success story: The seven-year-old girl from Nashik with her parents.

Community Cord Blood Banking, a stem cell banking initiative introduced by LifeCell in 2017, has helped save the life of a seven-year-old girl from Nashik in Maharashtra who was suffering from aplastic anaemia, a rare and serious blood disorder.

In a major breakthrough, a team of senior doctors from LOTUS Institute of Haematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, recently conducted India’s first dual cord blood transplant through an unrelated donor using Community Stem Cell Banking. People familiar with the development said the transplant was challenging because no apt bone marrow donors were available and the cost of retrieval of matching units from public cord blood banks would have been high.

The girl’s parents, as members of LifeCell Community Bank, placed a request for two matching cord blood units after the child’s sibling was found to be only a 50% (4/8) match. Two high-quality matches (7/8) were found in the registry, which fulfilled the requirement for umbilical cord blood transplantation. The parents could withdraw the matched units at no extra expense, which would have cost around ₹45 lakh per unit.

Mayur Abhaya, MD, LifeCell International said, “The purpose of Community Cord Blood Banking is to ensure easy and rapid access to stem cells for every Indian without the hurdles of public and private banking models.” While stem cells from the umbilical cord blood can be procured from global public banks, the probability of finding a match for a patient of Indian origin is less than 10% because of the low inventory of available units plus the big issue of donor dropouts.

Mr. Abhaya said, “Luckily, since the family was a part of LifeCell’s community banking programme, they could gain quick, free access to the huge inventory of over 50,000 qualified and consented units available at LifeCell, which provides greater than 97% probability of finding a match.”

In majority of blood-related disorders treatable by transplants, patients’ own stem cells are not suitable. Hence, the best donor is a close family member, usually a sibling. However, in this case, there was only a 50% match with the sibling, thus needing a match from an unrelated donor, LifeCell said in a statement. It said while a regular stem cell transplant requires a dose of 25 million cells per kg of the patient’s weight, for aplastic anaemia, the recommended minimum dose is 40 million cells per kg, which is not easy to find.

“The community banking model made it possible and the child received a timely transplant with an encouraging prognosis. Just 18 days after the transplant, white blood cells were completely engrafted, and platelets and red blood cell production also increased drastically,” the statement added.

Dr. Pritesh Junagade, director, LOTUS Hospital, expressed surprise that the retrieval process for two cord blood units was smooth and at no additional cost to the patient as compared to other banking models.

Tasneem Bohari, the child’s father, said: “It was two years ago that my daughter was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia. At the time of diagnosis, the doctors had suggested she would need a stem cell transplant eventually and it would be the best possible treatment in the future.”

The family did research and made enquiries about which stem cell bank to opt for as they were expecting their second child. It was during this time that their friends and relatives suggested LifeCell to them. Their doctor also suggested that they could go ahead and preserve their baby’s stem cell with LifeCell.

“At the time of preservation, we didn’t have much idea about Community Stem Cell Banking and its benefits, but today we are happy to associate with LifeCell, who have helped my daughter lead a quality life through cord blood transplant,” Mr. Bohari said.

Community Cord Blood Banking allows sharing of preserved umbilical cord stem cells from a common pool amongst the members of the community. The model offers greater and easier access to donor stem cells, unlimited retrievals at the cost of one enrolment, and a higher probability for finding a close match for potentially life-saving treatments.

This facility ensures complete protection to the child, siblings, parents, and maternal and paternal grandparents from more than 80 disorders treatable by stem cells.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.